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Archive for December 3rd, 2019

George Bellows- Blue Morning 1909

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Try everything that can be done. Be deliberate. Be spontaneous. Be thoughtful and painstaking. Be abandoned and impulsive. Learn your own possibilities.

–George Bellows

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George Bellows- Stag at Sharkey’s 1909

I’ve been an admirer of George Bellows’ work for a long time. He was a member of the Ashcan School, the group of painters from around the turn of the 20th century who painted gritty scenes set in the streets and buildings of urban America. He did a series of scenes with club fighters of the era that are favorites of mine, such as Stag at Sharkey’s here on the right, reminding me of my own grandfather who was a club wrestler of that same era.

My grandfather had numerous matches in the men’s clubs as well in the vaudeville theaters that were common in our hometown. He was called Shank for his ability to put a leghold on his opponents and hold it until they submitted. He had matches that lasted for several hours and had a pretty large local fanbase.

I can easily envision him at home in the dark scenes that were painted at that time by George Bellows.

While best known for his dark and gritty work, Bellows seemed to have paid attention to his own words of advice above. Though he died prematurely in 1925 at the age of 42 from peritonitis from a ruptured appendix, he stretched his work in many directions beyond his work as a member of the Ashcan group. He did portraiture, war scenes, landscapes and Maine seascapes and a host of other sorts of paintings in his prolific but short life. All were distinctly his own.

I wonder if he ever fully learned the extent of his own possibilities. While we may never know the answer, he left us a lot of hints as to what they might have been.

George Bellows- Love of Winter 1914

George Bellows- Big Dory 1913

George Bellows- Cleaning Fish

George Bellows- Haystacks and Barn

George Bellows- Massacre at Dinant (War Series) 1918

George Bellows- Shipyard Society 1916

George Bellows- Steaming Streets 1908

George Bellows- The White Horse 1914

George Bellows- Up the Hudson

George Bellows- The Fisherman’s Family 1923

 

 

 

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